Don Willenburg is chair of the firm's national Appellate Practice Group. Described as an “appellate luminary” by the journal California Litigation, he is past chair of the Appellate Practice Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco, and for the last decade-plus has chaired the amicus briefs committee of the Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California and Nevada working to advance causes important to the defense community.
Don has won appeals and writs in cases involving product liability, employment (discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination), construction defects and disputes, the “going and coming” rule, and other areas. A recent appellate success was persuading the California Supreme Court to require the lower courts to re-visit improper rulings imposing jurisdiction over non-California defendants. He is editor of the firm's blog Environmental and Toxic Tort Defense Insight.
Appellate lawyering is not “just” appeals and writs. Summary judgments and other dispositive motions are part of the specialty, as is serving as “appellate monitor” in a high-stakes trial to help shape arguments and create the best record for possible appeal. And sometimes the best advice you can get from an appellate lawyer is to not pursue a writ or appeal, or a particular argument in connection with either. Even when the trial-level defeat really stings.
Don has guest lectured at the USC and Pepperdine law schools and served as Practitioner Advisor for the Appellate Advocacy class at Berkeley (2021). He has been a moot court justice at a number of law schools in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He is a frequent author and lecturer on appellate procedure, evidence, expert witnesses, SLAPP and section 998 settlement offers. He has volunteered as judge pro tem, and as a Penal Code section 1524 special master accompanying police executing search warrants that cover privileged material.
- United States Supreme Court
- U.S. District Courts, California
- U.S Court of Appeals, First, Fifth (lapsed), Ninth, and Tenth Circuits
- Association of Defense Counsel for Northern California and Nevada, Member,
- Board of Directors and Chair, Amicus Briefs Committee
- Member, Information Technology Advisory Committee to Judicial Council of California